Electric Guitars are Just Louder Than Voices

When author Dambisa Moyo was quoted as saying,”My voice can’t compete with an electric guitar,” she was not referring to a battle of the bands. In Western aid culture, we are known for getting our most famous celebrities, high brow actors and legendary rockstars involved in the money-raising and awareness heightening process. But the fact is, the money and awareness raised are at the hands of whatever the celebrities of the West want. When Moyo made this comment, she was speaking about the power behind her activist voice. If the Hollywood honchos of the America (ahem, Bono), want to throw a charity concert in a stadium and televise it all across the world on the same night that Moyo has a televised TED talk, which do you suspect will get more views? Moyo’s comment is simply one of understanding of the power of celebrity. It is also one of frustration because as an African, she wants her voice regarding African economy and aid to be the one that is most prominent. But sadly, this is not the case and African opinions regarding the state of the continent and it’s issues are not the voices being heard.

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Moyo’s strongest and loudest argument to date is that which states that aid does not work, that aid is “dead.” Moyo states that because of geographical, political, tribal, historical and institutional reasons, the whole story os not being told and that aid in Africa is not working. The fact that many countries are landlocked is working against their ability to progress, states Moyo in chapter three of “Dead Aid.” Because of regimes and geopolitical strategy to maintain power, aid that is transferred directly to governments through the world bank is being used my corrupt country leaders and is only broadening the economic strife by funding civil war and ethnic conflicts. These ethnic conflicts and deeply rooted and far reaching–and currently there are states of discontent as well as many examples of peace. However, there must be an assurance of lasting peace before success can be reached.

While her arguments are oftentimes convoluted and centered on the speaker, rather than what is being said, I believe that Moyo does effectively argue her points. However her arguments do not hold well against questions raised by Western voices such as Bono and Gates. Would no aid leave Africa better off? Would it really be better if the West was making no attempts at all and simply allowing poverty to fix itself? Moyo’s arguments are clear, but her answers are not.

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